Recognising invisible labour - Deepstash

Recognising invisible labour

We pay for what matters. When someone does unpaid and unacknowledged work, it can mean they don't matter in other ways.

  • One United Nations report found women do three out of every four hours of unpaid labour. It leads to reduced earnings.
  • When women get paid for their work, everyone benefits. Women's economic empowerment contributes to growing economies.
  • An analysis from Oxfam estimated unpaid care work done by women was worth at least $10.8 trillion annually.

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MORE IDEAS FROM What is invisible labor? It's real and it hurts. Here's what to know.

To solve invisible labour, people need to make it visible. Then they should do something about it.

  • On an individual scale, family members can talk about the division of work at home.
  • Paid parental leave or subsidised child care could help alleviate the unpaid work mothers currently do.

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People often don't even realise they're doing work, as is the case with invisible labour. It's true for an employee who has to purchase specific clothing and groom himself in a specific way to work at a specific retail job, and it's true for the mother who can't understand why she feels more exhausted than her partner.

However, once you spot invisible labour, you can't unsee it.

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Invisible work refers to work that is unpaid, unnoticed and unacknowledged. These tasks include cooking dinner, assisting children with homework, or making a dentist appointment.

Invisible labour also appears in other sectors. For example, doing unpaid work for the "exposure" that could lead to industry connections, or a task outside of your work duties that could give you access to better "opportunities." While it may be true, it is still invisible labour.

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How "Thinking Of Everything" Holds Mums Back

When it comes to household responsibilities, women perform far more cognitive and emotional labour than men.

Understanding why could help explain why gender equality has not only stalled, but is going backwards, despite being more discussed than ever. And a broader understanding of this behind-the-scenes labour could help couples redistribute the work more equally – something that, while initially difficult, could play a significant role in helping mothers lighten their load.

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Household Chores: The Old Way

Logic dictates that whoever is good at a particular household chore is to do the same, for maximum efficiency. This is known as Division Of Labour in simple economics.

If household chores are done by the one who is able to do them well, then one person ends up doing almost everything.

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It is where you stubbornly stay up late at night because you feel like you didn't get any time to yourself.

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